The majority of the work that a dentist deals with are based around two conditions, tooth decay and gum disease.
Tooth decay presents in a variety of ways in a dental practice from no symptoms at all, to being caught on a routine x-ray or seen by the dentist in the mouth, chipped broken teeth, a sensitive tooth/teeth to having severe pain in a particular tooth. In saying that its important to understand the stages of tooth decay.
Cause of tooth decay
Tooth decay / cavities are caused when bacteria in plaque present in your mouth convert sugars present in your diet into acid. This acid then attacks the tooth surface and creates small cavities leading to larger cavities in time. Plaque in your mouth and sugars in your diet play key roles in tooth decay. Maintaining good oral hygiene and controlling the amount and frequency of sugar in your diet to prevent teeth from decaying.
This is where decay occurs in the hard outer surface of the tooth. In the authors opinion once, the decay passes through more than 1/3 of the enamel surface it is deemed irreversible and will require a restoration. At this point a patient will often have no symptoms and the restoration of these cavities is mostly very routine.
Once the decay has broken through the enamel surface it will get to the much softer dentine layer. As this point a cavity can grow in size very quickly as the dentine is softer and the decay can progress much quicker. Therefore, once decay get to this level its important to get it restored quickly as the deep the filling gets the more likelihood of sensitivity after the restoration. When decay gets to the dentine a patient will often present with symptoms. It could be a broken tooth, sensitivity or with food trapping between teeth where it never has.
If decay goes unchecked the decay will eventually get to the pulp of the tooth. At this point it can get serious and a patient will often present with spontaneous shooting pains in the tooth or shooting pain at meal times. At this point a conventional restoration wont work and an extraction or root canal treatment will be required.
Infection from Tooth Decay
As decay progresses into the pulp bacteria can invade and cause an infection. This may lead to a pocket of puss forming at the base of the tooth. Symptoms include pain and swelling radiating along the jaw as well as facial swelling, fever and enlarged lymph nodes. As such treatment is required quickly as this is deemed a dental emergency requiring drainage, root canal treatment or extraction.
The best way to deal with decay is to catch it early and the best way to do that is attend regularly for check-ups. Enamel decay is much easier to deal with than an infection and much cheaper.
To book your regular check-up give us a call on 0214305569 or email info(at)shandondental.ie